Bowling is a hard discipline in any form of cricket, but in Twenty20 it is a nightmare. In the IPL it is nigh on impossible to record consistent figures with the whole tournament geared towards big-hitting.
But for that reason, it is an incredible challenge for the best bowlers in the business, and good records with the ball should be lauded even more than great batting feats in the IPL.
So far in the seventh edition of the IPL, the huge hitting has been as clear as ever, but some of the bowling has also been of the highest quality.
Let's take a look at some of the best figures from the tournament so far, as well as the players leading the way in the race for the Purple Cap for most wickets, after Chennai's victory over Rajasthan on Tuesday in Ranchi.
Purple Cap Contenders
|IPL2014: Top Wicket Takers|
It is no surprise to see only one out-and-out fast bowler in the top five wicket-takers of the tournament so far.
It is also no surprise to see who that fast bowler is. Lasith Malinga is just about the only genuine quick who consistently performs at T20 level.
It is not a fast bowlers game. Taking pace off the ball is the way to restrict runs in T20, whereas quick bowling simply invites a streaky edge that may go for a boundary.
IPL pitted the Sri Lankan against one of the other top quicks in the competition, Dale Steyn, and here's what the public thought:
Malinga's 15 wickets from nine matches for the Mumbai Indians have been a key factor for his side and an economy rate of 6.28, per ESPNcricinfo, is mighty impressive.
Top of the pile is Chennai's Mohit Sharma with 18 wickets in 10 matches which have been crucial to the Super Kings' table-topping form.
He picked up a three-for on Tuesday in victory over Rajasthan, taking the key wickets of Australian's Steve Smith and Shane Watson, per ESPNcricinfo.
Cricket-21 provides a fascinating insight into Sharma's use of the slower ball:
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been both wicket-happy and economical as he has gone at just 5.46 runs an over while picking up 17 wickets, a potent combination in T20 cricket.
A match can be won and lost on a bowler's ability to bowl a killer spell, and here is a look at the six best sets of figures so far in the competition:
|IPL 2014: Best Bowling Figures|
|Ravindra Jadeja||Chennai vs. Kolkata||4-0-12-4|
|Lakshmipathy Balaji||Punjab vs. Hyderabad||4-0-13-4|
|Mohit Sharma||Chennai vs. Mumbai||4-0-14-4|
|Bhuvneshwar Kumar||Hyderabad vs. Rajasthan||4-0-14-4|
|Sunil Narine||Kolkata vs. Mumbai||4-0-20-4|
|Pravin Tambe||Rajasthan vs. Bangalore||4-0-20-4|
What should be immediately obvious from these statistics is that it is almost impossible to bowl a maiden at this level of T20 cricket.
Even Ravi Jadeja's incredible 4-12 against Kolkata did not include a run-less over, but it certainly caused some collapse in the Knight Riders' innings and steered Chennai to an easy 34-run victory, per ESPNcricinfo.
Similarly, Lakshmipathy Balaji's 4-13 against Hyderabad gave the Sunrisers absolutely no chance of chasing down the huge 193 target they had been set and led Kings XI to a massive 72-run win.
Kings XI Punjab have been rightly lauded for their huge hitting in the tournament so far, but their excellent bowling line up has been exemplary as well.
Finally, Sunil Narine has been very consistent so far this tournament for the Kolkata Knight Riders taking 13 wickets in nine matches.
His 4-10 on opening day against Mumbai saw the reigning champions stutter to 122 as they chased the 163 target.
A genius spell almost always wins a game in T20 and thus, if you have a bowler capable of such a feat in your team, he is invaluable.
While the competition's big moments will always be defined by batting, the IPL Purple Cap is one of the hardest things to win.
Wickets are like gold dust in T20 and those that take them in their stacks are worth every penny their team might have paid for them.
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